Practice 1 – Oriola fastest throughout the session
20 June 2015
Pepe Oriola and his Craft-Bamboo Lukoil SEAT León posted the fastest lap in a session that saw most of the drivers struggling to respect the track limits. Actually the Stewards disallowed Oriola’s fastest lap in the session – 2:22.444 – after the Spaniard repeatedly cut through the run-off areas of the F1 track. A number of other drivers – Michel Nykjær, Stefano Comini, Gianni Morbidelli and Andrea Belicchi – incurred in the same penalty for trespassing the limits of the track, although they were all able to improve further. Oriola led the time sheet throughout the session, consistently improving from 2:24.514 to 2:22.476. Until the late stages he had been the only driver capable to complete a lap in less than 2.23, however during their last attempt Tomas Engström (2:22.679), Morbidelli (2:22.735), Jordi Gené (2:22.799) and Sergey Afanasyev (2:22.822) successfully improved to fill the positions from second to fifth.
Oriola said: “It was a good session but we still have some work to do on the car, especially because the grip is not too good. The surface would need much more rubber on it. It’s already very warm in the morning, so heat will be a parameter to take into account for sure.”
TCR newcomer Engström was delighted: “The SEAT is fun to drive and I’m enjoying this TCR experience very much. We still have work to do on the car, but I am happy of how things are going. I definitely like the track, which is sort of in-between a street and a traditional circuit, with a mix of blind and very open corners. The key is how to handle track limits, to avoid sanctions, either the ones inflicted by the stewards or by … the walls!”
Morbidelli commented: “We found a good pace, but we suffered from understeer, which is a usual issue on our car when the weather is hot. We need to try and correct this. Nevertheless, the gaps are very close, which is partly due to the fact that the track is not very selective.”
TCR drivers will make their next appearance in thesecond Free Practice at 12.35 local time.
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